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The role of melatonin in mood disorders

Authors De Berardis D, Orsolini L, Serroni N, Girinelli G, Iasevoli F, Tomasetti C, Mazza M, Valchera A, Fornaro M, Perna G, Piersanti M, Di Nicola M, Cavuto M, Martinotti G, Di Giannantonio M

Received 19 January 2015

Accepted for publication 24 March 2015

Published 11 November 2015 Volume 2015:5 Pages 65—75


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Marc Hébert

Domenico De Berardis,1–3 Laura Orsolini,3–5 Nicola Serroni,1 Gabriella Girinelli,1–3 Felice Iasevoli,3–6 Carmine Tomasetti,3–6 Monica Mazza,3–7 Alessandro Valchera,3–8 Michele Fornaro,9 Giampaolo Perna,10–12 Monica Piersanti,13Marco Di Nicola,14 Marilde Cavuto,15 Giovanni Martinotti,2 Massimo Di Giannantonio2

NHS, Department of Mental Health, Psychiatric Service of Diagnosis and Treatment, Hospital "G Mazzini", Teramo, Italy; 2Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Science, Chair of Psychiatry, University G d'Annunzio, Chieti, Italy; 3Polyedra, Teramo, Italy; 4United Hospitals, Academic Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, Polytechnic University of Marche, Ancona, Italy; 5School of Life and Medical Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK; 6Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry and Psychopharmacotherapeutics, Section of Psychiatry, Department of Neuroscience, University School of Medicine Federico II, Naples, Italy; 7Department of Health Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy; 8Villa S Giuseppe Hospital, Hermanas Hospitalarias, Ascoli Piceno, Italy; 9Department of Scienze della Formazione, University of Catania, Catania, Italy; 10Hermanas Hospitalarias, FoRiPsi, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Villa San Benedetto Menni, Albese con Cassano, Como, Italy; 11Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, University of Maastricht, Maastricht, the Netherlands; 12Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Leonard Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA; 13Hospital Pharmacy, Hospital G Mazzini, ASL 4 Teramo, Italy; 14Institute of Psychiatry and Psychology, Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy; 15IASM, L'Aquila, Italy

Abstract: Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) has been discovered as a hormone secreted by the pineal gland, even though it is also synthetized in various other organs, tissues, and cells. The circadian rhythm of melatonin is often used as an indicator phase position since it is a well-defined, high-amplitude rhythm controlled by the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nuclei. Melatonin production is controlled by this endogenous circadian timing system. It peaks during the night and is suppressed by daylight. Mood spectrum disorders, including bipolar disorder (BD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), have been observed to be accompanied by circadian dysregulation as well as dysregulation in melatonin secretion. Simultaneously, it has also been documented that disruptions in circadian rhythms, including the sleep/wake cycle, though environmental means can produce mood-related problems in vulnerable individuals. These findings suggested that altered circadian rhythms might be biological markers of these disorders. As melatonin is considered a chronobiotic factor, ie, able to entrain the circadian rhythms of several biological functions (eg, activity/rest, sleep/wake, body temperature, endocrine rhythms, etc), its use may provide a new therapeutic approach for the treatment of affective disorders. However, the available evidence is controversial. This review summarizes the data published so far about reliable evidence on the role of melatonin in affective disorders.

Keywords: melatonin, melatonergic system, mood disorders, depression, seasonal affective disorder, bipolar disorder

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